Barry Ohlund is seeking a third term on the College of the Siskiyous governing board from Area 4.
Ohlund, who has worked at Ohlund’s Office Supply for 53 years, states in an email that “the college is doing extremely well right now and I would like to continue on the Board to insure its stability of both enrollment as well as financial soundness. I want to see an expansion of new programs that offer our students opportunities they don’t now have.”
Ohlund believes his business experience is valuable on the board and his experience hiring employees will help when the college needs to replace current president Scotty Thomason in the near future.
Ohlund’s ancestors were early pioneers into Siskiyou County, and he is a 5th generation descendent.
“My roots are very deep and several times a year I still go out and work at the family ranch that is just a few miles from Yreka,” he wrote. “I began working at my father’s business of Ohlund’s Office Supply at age 12 and have worked there 53 years of my life. I am a veteran and I love my country and community and in my own way have worked hard to make it a great place to live. I am still a Rotarian, an Elk, a City Planning Commissioner, a Board member for Mt Shasta Title and Escrow as well as a Trustee for COS. I am surrounded by close family and good friends.”
Following are Ohlund’s answers to questions the newspaper sent to him by email:
Q: What do you see as the main issues that the college is dealing with and/or will need to deal with in the next four years?
A: Fortunately there are very few issues to contend with at the moment. Accreditation is always an ongoing issue. Teams are sent here to discover weaknesses in our system so that we can correct them. This year, by the time the accreditation report came out, we had already corrected the majority of our weaknesses. We are currently hiring approximately 45 employees at the college. Should the state face financial difficulties in the next few years, we would be forced to release some of the very people we have searched so hard to find. When the college was born back in the 1960’s, it was built by using portable buildings. They still exist today on both campuses. They need to be replaced by modern permanent buildings. This January we will begin a search for a new college president, as our current president plans to retire in June. This is the single most important and difficult task for the Board of Trustees. I have been instrumental in this process on several occasions and am very proud of the current leadership I helped select.
Q: What will you bring to the board that will help in dealing with those issues?
A: I have been a successful business owner for 37 years and have had to adapt my business to changing times and circumstances. My specialty was making sound business decisions. I loved the challenge. I am passionate about what I believe in and I believe in the young people of this county. Providing a solid educational foundation for them will provide the best hope for the future of our children and our county. In my professional life, I had to find solutions to difficult problems. Budgeting and running a million dollar a year business honed my skill set. I will continue to bring good and reasonable business decisions to the Board of Trustees. I am connected and engaged within my community and my door is open to new ideas and discussions concerning our community college.
Q: What do you see as the significant successes the board has had during your terms in office?
A: “We have weathered the storm of being poorly financed by the state and we have now (at my request) increased our financial reserve from 5% to over 13%. Enrollment has increased substantially placing us in a solid position where we are rebuilding our infrastructure. We hired a College President who can work with all of the different employee factions to find goals on common ground. We have worked hard and thanks to our communities we passed a bond measure that enabled us to build the Nursing program on the Yreka campus with a state of the arts facility. We have also built a new modern Science building on the Weed campus thanks to the Chancellor’s office. We are currently developing programs such as the Siskiyou Promise and an early enrollment program that will ensure our graduating seniors will have a college to go to.
Q: What other clubs, organizations, activities are you involved in or have you been involved in?
A: I began my civic involvement when I joined the Yreka Jaycee’s and learned how to run an event or develop a new program and I also went through the chairs to President. I also joined the Yreka Fire Department and much later retired after 23 years as Secretary/Treasurer. I was involved in Special Olympics for many years and was Secretary/Treasurer for 8 years. My business life took me into the Yreka Chamber of Commerce where I served two terms on the Board and then finished as President of the Board. After I retired from the Fire Department I joined Yreka Rotary Club which I still belong to. I was President of Rotary in 2001 during the 911 attack and I pushed the very first donation to go to New York through the Red Cross and my club and challenged all other Rotary clubs to do the same. My parents were getting elderly and so I became a Madrone Hospice volunteer to learn how to cope with the death of a loved one. It was beneficial to me in many ways and I loved it and the many families I helped through their loss. In 2006 the Mayor of Yreka appointed me to the Yreka Planning Commission which I am still on. When I sold my business and retired, I joined the Veteran’s Commission where we worked on Veteran benefits and obtaining a Veteran’s burial area in Evergreen Cemetery. I was honored to become the covenanted “Yreka Citizen of the Year” in 2007 and the very next year I won the election to College of the Siskiyous Board of Trustees. I have now served two terms and two of those years were as President of the Board.
Q: What has inspired you to seek office at this time?
A: There is just so much more I want to do and see completed. We are coming to an important junction at the college where we will soon be seeking a new college President. When we hired our current President (Scotty Thomason), I was then President of the Board and pushed hard to convince other Board members to hire him. Having hired a couple hundred people in my business life, I am really experienced at picking a good candidate and Scotty has been a real blessing to our college. Currently COS is headed in a strong direction and I would like to see that continue. I am the only Trustee on the Board that has business experience consequently I have 37 years of budgeting, developing new technology, expanding my offerings and creating loyalty and trust among my customers.
Q: Any other comments you would like to make about your candidacy.
A: “I love the challenge of being on the College Board of Trustees where I can use my business skills to help solve problems and situations that arise. I am confident that the skill set I bring to the Board has made a difference and I would very much like to continue to represent you as your elected Trustee.”